Are You a Commodity Freelance Writer? How to Switch That Around

As a freelance writer, are you a commodity or an asset?

Are your services being simply traded for money or are you valued by your client?

When you are looking to advance your career as a freelance writer and make a living off what you do, the difference is important.

Are You a Commodity Freelance Writer? How to Switch That Around

Being valued by your client not only feels good, but it will lead to a long-term relationship, recurring projects and a more stable income.

Sometimes this sense of value comes across naturally to a client but sometimes you have to put in the effort to help the client understand your worth.

Many freelance writing clients don’t understand what goes into writing a high-quality piece of content. They simply want to pay you for the words and send you on your way.

When you make yourself valuable clients like this, they will begin to understand why they should be choosing you over the multitude of freelance writers looking for work.

Are you ready to become an asset and ditch being a commodity? Here’s how you can increase your value and worth when finding online writing jobs.

The Difference Between a Commodity and an Asset in Freelance Writing

Positioning yourself as a commodity when finding freelance writing jobs basically means that you are working underneath them. You take the job they give you, complete it and get paid.

That may sound all well and good when you’re looking to make a little bit of money but, in this case, price becomes the biggest factor when it comes to hiring you – not your value, your relationship, your professionalism or your skills.

Coming across as a commodity means that you will have to offer a low rate to get work.

Take the model Upwork uses, for example. When clients write up their job ads for freelance writers, they fill out a form provided by Upwork detailing the job requirements. There is no wiggle room for expert knowledge.

And they offer a lower rate if you simply tick off the boxes they require.

However, when you market yourself as an asset, you’re placing yourself alongside the client. You’re building a relationship, sharing ideas and being valued for your skills and expertise.

In this situation, you’re setting yourself up not only for better freelance writing rates but more long-term freelance writing gigs as well.

But how exactly do you do this?

If you find you are being treated like a commodity freelance writer, here are some ways you can switch that around.

How to Avoid Being a Commodity Freelance Writer

Become the Go-To for Writing Clients

In order to have freelance writing clients coming back for more, and paying you appropriately, you have to give them a reason to value you.

Creating value is more than just delivering what is paid for. This is what clients expect from commodity freelance writers.

Here are three ways you can create value with your client and become their “go-to” freelance writer.

1. Build a Strong Relationship With Your Client

When you build a strong relationship with your client, you are more likely to blip their radar when it comes to hiring a freelance writer for future writing gigs.

To do this, you want to make sure you get off on the right foot by having clear expectations about the project’s details. This will help to prevent any arguments and miscommunications.

The best way to do this is to work with your client to develop a contract. Not only will this clearly outline the work to be done but it will also give you an opportunity to communicate and connect with them.

You can continue to create a good relationship by engaging in short and friendly conversation and showing your client that you are thankful for the opportunity they have given you.

Just be careful not to overshare about your life and stray away from professionalism. And, when it comes to being grateful, you don’t have to “kiss their feet” so to speak.

A simple “I appreciate this opportunity” every now and then will suffice.

2. Invest in Your Freelance Writing Client’s Success

You want your freelance writing clients to be successful so that they can grow their business and continue to pay you to write for them – but investing in their success also makes you and your work more valuable.

You don’t have to spend countless unpaid hours doing this. Simply sharing their content on your social media or leaving meaningful and relevant comments on articles is a great way to show support to your client.

The great thing about investing in your client’s success is they will be more likely to do the same. They will feel more encouraged to refer your services to other businesses or provide you with an awesome testimonial.

What my freelance writing clients say about me

By doing this, they will begin to see you as an asset to their business and not just a faceless writer producing work for them.

3. Increase Your Worth as a Freelance Writer

Businesses hire freelance writers because they cannot produce the content themselves – either they don’t have the time or the skills.

If they don’t have the skills, they are probably not going to recognize the difference between good writing and bad writing. They just want to pay someone to write something to save them the hassle of trying to do it themselves.

To be honest, many businesses and clients are looking for a commodity because they don’t know any different.

You can help them understand that difference by increasing your worth as a freelance writer. I don’t mean increasing your rates – I mean increasing your value.

You can do this by building a good knowledge base. By taking courses, you can demonstrate to your clients that you really know what you’re doing.

You can also increase your skillset by learning things such as how to optimize articles for WordPress as well as how to edit and optimize images.

Whatever you can to save your client time they will see as an asset – and you as well.

Have One Writing Niche

When you write on every topic out there, it becomes tempting to grab up any freelance writing job that comes your way.

While this is a great way to earn an income while you’re starting out, it makes it difficult to market yourself as an expert freelance writer.

This is probably the best example I can give of what it looks like to be a commodity writer. You spend your time and effort getting paid for one-offs on a variety of topics but struggle to land a long-term client.

By appearing as a jack-of-all-trades, it’s hard to prove to clients that you understand the unique needs of their industry.

But, when you dedicate your freelance writing to one niche, you have the opportunity to market yourself as an expert.

Feel free to explore multiple niches when you starting out, as long as they align with your knowledge and experiences.

For instance, when I started writing, I went with what I knew – parenting, psychology and health.

I came to learn that the parenting niche isn’t lucrative (based on the clients I was seeking at the time), but health and psychology landed me some pretty high-paying writing gigs!

Eventually, I began to learn more about digital marketing and added that to my writing niches.

These are all areas I’m knowledgeable and experienced in so it’s easier for me to connect with clients whose needs require these topics.

Because I focused on what I knew, clients came to trust my skills and insight. This has attracted many new clients but has created long-term clients as well.

If you want to learn the “mistakes” I made early on, check out my Youtube video on the 13 things I wish I knew when first starting out.

Position Yourself as the Expert

So having a writing niche is a great way to be seen as an asset and not a commodity but how can you use this to show your clients that you are an expert?

Guest posting in your writing niche is a great way to show your expertise. Websites and blogs are not going to accept and post your content if you don’t know what you’re talking about!

When you guest post, you can add these pieces to your portfolio to show clients that other blogs in their niche trust your content.

You can also start your own blog in your niche and write content for that. This will show clients that you are an expert and you are dedicated enough to the topic to create content about it in your free time.

Here is Writeto1k student Chelsy and her tech blog showing prospects her deep knowledge about WordPress and coding.

Another aspect of positioning yourself as an expert is to showcase your professionalism and experience.

By delivering high-quality work on time, you are showing your client that you are serious about your business. Like most of the tips I’m sharing in this post, this helps to increase your value to clients.

One of my pet peeves when hiring other content writers for my sites is how many of them give me their article at the very last minute of the deadline.

This is not professional and a big reason why I may not hire them again.

I make it a point to go above and beyond for my clients. I told my recent client I will not get paid until they are happy with the work I give them. I’m okay with the edits and re-working. I want to have a client that values my hard work ethic and will eventually give me a glowing testimonial.

Hustle Every Day

Remember how I mentioned Upwork’s model for creating job posts?

Many job boards are like this, so they don’t really give you much of an opportunity to show a potential client that you can be an asset to their business.

So, instead of seeking the perfect freelance writing job on a job board, get out there and pitch!

Pitching can be nerve-wracking but it also presents you with the perfect opportunity to show a client what you’ve got right away!

Focus on pitching to sites and businesses in your niche. This will allow you to immediately speak to the problems the business (and its clientele) faces from a place of experience.

For instance, if I were to pitch to a law firm, I would have nothing to bring to the table beyond researching and writing words. I wouldn’t be able to offer them any insight or solutions to their problems – because I have no idea what they are!

When you pitch to a potential client, you want to stand out from the crowd and communicate your value and expertise right away.

You want the flavor of your pitch to be more “Here is how I can help you,” instead of “Here is what I can do for you.”

This immediately places you more alongside the client as an asset as opposed to underneath them as a commodity.

Know Your Worth!

When you’re serious about your freelancing writing work, you already have all the value and worth you need to succeed.

But it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking you aren’t good enough because you’re not landing high-paying content writing jobs.

It’s actually the opposite! You’re not landing high-paying writing jobs because you don’t know that you are good enough.

Once you realize this and start showing it to the world, you can start to leave your days as a commodity freelance writer in the past and move forward!

I know you can do it!

Your turn – How can you add value to your freelance writing business? I’d love to hear your ideas!

Hi I'm Elna and I'm a freelance writer and mom blogger. I help people just like you become a profitable freelance writer. Within 6 months of starting my freelance writing business from scratch I was able to earn a full-time living as a part-time freelance writer while taking care of my twin toddlers. Check out my free email course Get Paid to Write Online and learn the steps you need to take to be a freelance writer.

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6 Comments

Great article! Oh the commodity arena! Thanks for encouraging people to get off that roller coaster! 👍Reply to Jenn
Hey Jen, Yes, so glad you found this helpful! As a freelancer and writer we have to get out of that arena for sure!Reply to Elna
This is one of my favorite posts yet.Reply to Caitlin
Hey Caitlin, Glad you enjoyed it! It really is a great thing to know if you’re new to freelance writing!Reply to Elna
Inspirational post, thank youReply to Elizabeth
Hi Elizabeth, Thanks so much! Glad you found some inspiration from it! It’s hard when you’re new to get out there and be confident in your abilities. This post is my help to you!Reply to Elna